Should Catholics Celebrate Halloween?

The Great Christian Feast-Halloween – by Michael Dubruiel

This is one of those thoughts that comes to you in a moment of clarity with such force that you wonder how it could be that everyone just doesn’t see the truth of it.

Last night when I made one of my few trips to the door to hand out candy, it just hit me. There I was confronted with a skull painted white on the face of an African American, who was standing there holding open a bag, expecting something from me.

A home invasion? No.

Trick or Treat!

I gladly obliged his request with a handful of candy and he turned and went on his merry way to join the other hordes of beggars that flooded our streets.

I had just fulfilled the mandate of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I had just welcomed Him in the guise of the hungry, “When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat.” Matthew 25!

“When did we see you Lord?”

“Whenever you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it to me.”

Is there anytime left in our year when Americans are so blatantly Christian, welcoming the strangers that come to their door? Is there anytime that we reward those who on purpose try to repulse us by their costumes?

Yet the thought that it is better to give than receive dominates this day and truly the day fulfills its purpose of being the eve of All Saints Day! For if we are ever to join the saints we must learn to make everyday Halloween!

So that today when we meet those we might otherwise demonize, we give what we have freely as though we were meeting Christ Himself in the streets (and if we believe the Gospel message we are in fact meeting him)!

I used to joke that strangers could in fact be demons, (this was when the angel rage was in full swing and I use to make the point that yes a stranger might be an angel but who is to say if it is a good one or a bad one–sort of a twist of the Glenda the Good Witch’s question to Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”), but I would ask you to reflect on Halloween a bit more with me.

If we give to the stranger, indeed we welcome them as Christ. But if we look at the stranger only as someone who has something to give and we judge them based on that we are apt to conclude that all strangers are demons!

For example if we start viewing every middle eastern looking Arab that we do not know personally as a terrorist we are forgoing an opportunity to see them as Christ (who happened to be of middle eastern descent). Abraham was visited by three strangers (one would presume of middle eastern descent) and he fed them–they turned out to be angels and they gave him a blessing! But let’s suppose that we in fact do come across some terrorists in our daily activities. What if our interaction with them, seeing them as Christ and giving them whatever we have to give at that moment (even if it is only a smile of acceptance) led them to change their whole way of viewing Americans?

It is sad to think that a day that is the perfect example of what it means to be a Christian has been protested by so many Christians in this country. Do they read the Gospels?

No one is celebrating or worshipping demons on Halloween. The children who dress up in their costumes are playacting and giving the individual behind every door an opportunity to imitate Christ.

It is also sad that many miss the point in the other direction. They overdo it in the name of “everyone else is doing it” and light their houses up as though it is Christmas, rather than encountering the little masked Christs in the darkness the way it is intended to happen and does happen in daily lives. The vacuous nature of their souls demands making a show of their giving. Sadly they have already received their reward–the empty praise of their neighbors and friends.

There have been moves lately among some Catholics to have children dress up as saints– this may be a fine thing to do on All Saints day but it totally misses the point of Halloween. We will never be saints, nor will we imitate them, until we open the door everyday and welcome the ghouls we encounter as though they are Christ.

Fr. Solanus Casey Beatification November 18, 2017

From 2004 Taming the Wild   Solanus had also been cultivating a patch of wild strawberries which he told the friars he was “taming.” Father Solanus: The Story of Solnus Casey O.F.M. Cap. p.174


by Michael Dubruiel



I had been making my lunch time pilgrimage for several months when I read a chapter from Cathy Odell’s book on Solanus’ time in Huntington. I had literally walked the fields and woods throughout but had never come across any wild strawberries. They must have perished when some of the land was plowed, I figured.


It was a beautiful sunlit day, not a cloud in the sky and very low humidity. I started out walking the perimeter of the property, as was my usual route, and began to pray the rosary. Normally this meant finishing the joyful mysteries by the time I reached the far forest where an Eagle Scout had cleared a trail through the woods. There I would begin the sorrowful mysteries reaching the Capuchin graveyard about the time I reached the third sorrowful mystery (the Crowing with Thorns) where I would prostrate in the direction of the simple wooden cross at the head of the graveyard and pray the prayer of St. Francis, “We adore thee O Christ and we praise Thee because by thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.” Then I would pray the third sorrowful mystery on my knees for the Friars and others buried there, at the same time asking for their intercession for my many needs.


Then I would retrace my steps backward in a slightly different path along the woods rather than through them. At about the same spot where I had discovered an apple tree left over from the orchard that Solanus had blessed, I looked down and spotted something red blooming. At first I thought they were small red flowers that had some how resisted the mowing the lawn had received recently. But on closer inspection I found wild strawberries almost ready to be harvested.


I thought of the irony of my discovery on the very day that I had first read about Solanus’ “taming” of wild strawberries, then I thought of the whole aspect of “taming” the wild.


Looking over the property of what had once been a flourishing center of Catholic spirituality, I could not help but be struck by the apparent failure. What had been tamed here and once again become wild.


It struck me as an apt symbol for the state of Catholicism in the United States at the beginning of the Twenty-first century. The in-roads that the Church had made in converting and bringing Catholic Christianity to this country seemed to have reverted back to its wild state. Those who call themselves Catholic pick and choose what they believe and how they practice their faith. In many ways they mirror the environment they live in with very little to distinguish them from their non-Catholic neighbors.


Of course it also struck me that I suffered from this as much as anyone.


Picking up the wild strawberry, I saw how immature it was. No doubt Solanus’ taming of the “wild” strawberries had resulted in them growing into substantial fruit that was enjoyed by the Huntington Capuchins. Now without that taming, the wild strawberry had once again returned to a small pitiful caricature of what it might have been.


Sadly this is what we also have become. Our influence in our culture is weak and we risk giving scandal to those who look to us as representatives of all that is Catholic. We are “wild” Cathlolics, in great need of being tamed by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

73 Steps to Communion with God – 72 – by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous postings are found in the archives to the right. This is the 72nd Step:

(72) To make peace with an adversary before the setting of the sun.

We should always strive to remain at peace with everyone. One wonders how different life would be if everyone were to embrace this counsel and practice it in their daily life. Would there ever be another war? Would anyone have reason to live in fear anymore?

But such is not the case and I cannot live with my focus on what others are or are not doing. I can only put this counsel into practice myself. Do I allow the sun to set without making peace with those who I’m either angry with or those who are angry with me.

I have worked with people who practice this counsel and it can be rather tiresome when they come up to you to make peace and you weren’t even aware that you were at “war” with them. But in the long run it is much better to have these summits of peace than to have people around you stewing about some slight that you have committed against them.

And what of us?

Are we aware of the control that others have over us by their actions and words?

Really this is a counsel to make sure that any time God is Lord over you. When we make someone an enemy we are in danger of making them an idol that we worship and serve. They and the actions that they commit against us are not all-powerful and do not deserve the time and emotion that we often waste on them. Making peace with our adversaries means making peace with God first, asking God to empower us to forgive and acknowledging that God is the judge over all. We let go and let God be God in our lives.

73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel – 71

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous steps are found in the archives. This is step 71:

71) To pray for one’s enemies in the love of Christ.

“Father, forgive for they know not what they do,” are the words that come to mind when we reflect on this counsel to “pray for one’s enemies in the love of Christ.” Jesus not only preached this counsel of Benedict’s but He also left us an example of how to do it. Yet it is pretty tough to do when we start putting faces to the word enemy.

We could start by those who personally affront us and pray for them. Do we believe that they really didn’t know what they were doing when they hurt us? I’ll be that if you share the incident with an objective person they would offer you some insight into the ignorance that probably was at work on the other end. Perhaps our enemies are insane, misled or plain stupid and this is the evil that we live with in the world that things are not quite what they could be or should be at any given time.

Even those who are moved by greed and dispense with poisons that injure and kill thousands daily (many of whom are quite respected in our communities) should be prayed for because could anyone really know what they are doing–and still do it if it had such horrible results. One can easily look at the insanity of a Hitler or Stalin but what of those who market items that kill (feel free to fill in the blanks with all known cancer and disease causing products that one can still buy at the local convenience store).

We are to pray for these people–those who hurt us and threaten us personally and the same for those who we fear in a more global way. In doing so we also are made aware of our own ignorance and how we too are responsible for the pain and hurt we cause others.

In praying for our enemies we change them into our brothers and sisters. We recognize their frailty. We bring them back down to earth where we are. We destroy our idols (albeit idols that we fear). In the process God almighty is restored to His rightful place in our lives as the Supreme Being who should be our one concern.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion – 70 – by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are found in the archives. This is step #70:

(70) To love the younger.

Benedict’s advice to love the junior monk is a counsel that may not mean as much to us in a culture that prizes youth. There was a real danger in a culture where wisdom and age are seen as equal to see youth as foolish and of little significance.

Of course in the Gospel Jesus had told his disciples that “out of the mouths of babes” comes wisdom. The Christian realizes that there is a wisdom that comes not from years and reflection but directly from God.

The idealism of youth often carries with it a wisdom that can be lost with age. The high ideals that we both strive for and expect from others when we are young can grow into disillusion and cynicism with age. Having youth around whether at home, in the work place or in the church can greatly enhance our lives.

What is lost on modern man is this exclusion of youth from its midst. Modern people do not love “youth” meaning “others” as much as they love the idea of ‘”youth” for themselves.

There are many applications to this counsel for non monks. We should welcome children into our lives. We should see them as having much to offer in helping us to understand the ways of God in this life.

It should also be added that the abuse of children shows why this counsel is so important. If we see children as precious beings who must be protected and cared for, i.e. truly loved, then we will stand up and defend them whenever they come under attack from those who would use their innocence to use them sexually or damage their young souls in any way.

RCIA Guide to Confession

For a brief, pointed and helpful guide,

"Michael Dubruiel"

All of Michael Dubruiel’s books listed on Amazon.

The Power of the Cross free download and audio files.

The New Version of the Stations of the Cross link

Free Catholic Books

I once read a personal essay written about attending Mass

where the writer advised the reader to get to church early to find

a pew where you will likely have no one sitting anywhere near

you to distract you. I confess there have been times that I have

felt this way too, but I can see how sinful such a view is—how

“separation” even in the name of God is not of God.

Jesus came to reunify all those separations brought about by

original sin—whether they be nationality, gender, or language. “For

by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks,

slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1

Corinthians 12:13). Our sinful self rebels against this notion; we

want to judge others rather than forgive in Christ. This is our cross!

If we hold it in front of us, we will have a constant reminder of the

One who died for the sins of the world—to save “them” and “us.”

From The Power of the Cross by Michael Dubruiel , available as a free download by clicking the cover below:

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73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 69

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are found in the archives. This is step # 69:

(69) To honor the aged.

Life that has been lived long has acquired wisdom that can not be learned in books. The idealism of youth often finds quick solutions to problems that the person with wisdom will merely smile at. They have seen it all and have grown to appreciate what is of the utmost importance and what is trivial in a way that those of us who are still learning have not.

There is nothing more valuable in a culture than those who have been around for a long time and can provide this perspective to life. I was blessed to live near my grandparents and to enjoy their wisdom as I was growing up. There is a perspective to life that they can give that younger parents can not.

Benedict’s counsel encourages us to honor the gift of life that has been bestowed upon our elders; to hold them in high esteem, to seek their counsel. To learn from them when we disagree with them.

Our culture unfortunately has not followed this counsel of late. We present youth as the ideal. Older people are made to feel that their time is past. This is a tragedy and the lasting effects are yet to manifest themselves in our culture.

Honoring anyone is a sign that we recognize the value that they possess not only to us but also to all. Honor the older people you encounter today. Take time to say hello, take time to learn from them. Allow yourself to receive their blessing.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel – 68

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps are in the archives to the right. This is the 68th step:

(68) Not to love pride.

A direct translation of the Latin for this counsel would be to “flee” pride. Yet it would be fair to say that I think few people actually flee pride these days. There is a reason it is a vice and sadly there is nothing worst than a vice that is presented as a virtue.

“Looking out for #1” became something of a slogan starting in the 1970’s and with it an explosion of the love of pride. Pride for many is no longer a sin but a sign of psychological maturity. This is sad because pride always mask a secret belief that deep down I really know that I’m not all that good and that is a tragedy!

We all can relate to a person who constantly is blowing their own horn and how tiresome this can be. But imagine for a moment that the person who is doing this is your child. I think if you asked yourself why they were doing it and tried to enter their skin you would see that sadly they really don’t believe it and they are proclaiming it hoping that someone will affirm it.

Unfortunately such pride merely leads to people heaping scorn upon the individual in unsuccessful attempts to bring them back down to earth. And the sad individual becomes mired in an ever deepening pool of self-pity.

Contrast this individual with the saints. Although esteemed by others they hold themselves in low esteem. They realized their faults and they realize their gifts. Their gifts they realize are just that, presents from a God and they thank God continuously for them.

The saints are truly those who look out for #1, and they manifest this in their lives. They live in reality and know that God is number one and seek Him in the poor, in others and most of all constantly in prayer.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel – 67

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps are found in the archives to the right. This is step 67:

(67) Not to love strife.

Another way of translating this counsel of St. Benedict’s is “not to love confrontation.” There is not a counsel here to avoid it, but simply not to “love” it. There are some who literally love to pick a fight; who are entertained by creating an environment of unease.

The model must be Christ who was no stranger to confrontation or as our Lord say, “bringing the sword.” His attitude is one of repairing the damage that has been inflicted or is in the process of being created by others. We should love the imitation of Christ at all times and seeking to do what Christ would do in any situation, mindful that we are in Christ.

This necessarily means confronting evil wherever we encounter it. But it does not mean loving that confrontation. There comes a point and it is a fine point where good people can become evil. Critics of Christianity often point out the damage done by “good” Christians. What they are highlighting is not the work of good Christians but rather the work of evil people who have allowed their love of strife to overtake their love of Christ.

The goal is never to destroy a person but rather to seek their salvation. Christ alone can save the person, not us. We can merely point out the way, most of the time painfully risking the loss of friendship from those who prefer darkness to light. This should grieve us too and move us to prayer.

Whether we live this counsel or not can be judged by our reaction to the way we deal with confrontation in our lives. Does it give us a feeling of satisfaction or sorrow? Our Lord was moved to tears when He approached Jerusalem because they did not know the time of their visitation. Is our response the same?

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 66 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous postings are available in the archives to the right. This the 66th step:

(66) Not to be jealous; not to entertain envy.

Perhaps the saddest of sins both of these arise from a failure to acknowledge and give thanks for tall the ways in which God has blessed us. Our focus is not on our own giftedness but rather on someone else. God has blessed us, and we are blessed right now. Looking at someone else as more blessed or focusing on their gifts as something that we want for ourselves is a waste of time.

This is especially true in the quest for sanctity. We do not become holy by becoming someone else. We become holy by being fully who God created us to be. Saints are as varied in their gifts as are people.

Knowing ourselves is not always self-evident. Many times everyone around us seems to know who we are better than we know ourselves. And often we know others better too and are able to admire the gifts that others possess more than the ones that we do ourselves. This is the crux of the problem.

Jealousy and envy should be treated in the same way we would treat a rash on our body–as an indication of a problem. The answer to jealousy and envy is to thank God also for the gifts that He has given to others. We need to look upon others not as a threat but as a blessing.

We need to thank God for the gifts that he has given us. Like the steward who took the gifts left with him by the master and multiplied them a hundredfold we need to focus on what God has given us and how it might benefit others. Our one goal should be that we use our gifts in accordance with His will.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 65 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous entries are found in the archive to the right.

(65) To hate no one.

Christianity introduced a radical concept into the world that has seldom been lived out–to love everyone as God loves him or her. Our Lord counseled his disciples to “love their enemies” and to “love one’s neighbor.” When asked by one of His hearers who their neighbor was, Jesus used the example of what undoubtedly would have been the questioners idea of an enemy–a Samaritan as the good who was “neighbor” to the unfortunate fallen soul along the roadside.

Benedict’s maxim almost takes this a step further in counseling us in the first place to “hate no one.” This may seem impossible to do but only if we are convinced that we ourselves have been set up as the supreme judge over all people. Every person that we might “hate” is an invitation for us to turn to God again and to acknowledge that God alone knows what His designs have for both the person and us in question.

We should pray for those who abuse and mistreat us. We are to try to understand those who “hate” us. Hatred by its very nature is evil.

The example that usually drives the point home is to imagine that the person in question is your child. Could you hate your own flesh? Would you not wish for their salvation? If they are doing wrong would you not do everything in your power to help them to do right so that they might be saved?

In the Kingdom of God we are all brothers and sisters, God’s children.

The genius of St. Benedict’s counsel is that it does not play the game of saying that you can love someone but not like them–which I have always found rather ridiculous. We are to hate no one and to see “hate” as an obstacle to love.

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 64

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous entries are found in the archive to the right.

(64) To love chastity.

St. Benedict’s counsel to “love” chastity applies to every Christian regardless of their state of life. The monk will be chaste in a way that is different than a married person but both are required to be chaste in their dealings with all people. Chastity is an attitude toward the other that sees the beauty of the person but does not wish to take or consume the other.

Being chaste means never making an object of anyone. While we think of this in sexual terms, sex is really just the tip of the iceberg. Seeing a person as a person and not making an object of them helps us to truly be reverent toward the person. Being chaste means being open to seeing others as God sees them. We desire to be in a good relationship with all people but we do not seek to enslave the other.

Some were shocked some years ago when Pope John Paul II stated that even a married man could commit a sin of lust with his own wife. What the Pope was pointing out was that even marriage does not give a man or woman the license to treat the their spouse like their property. In the same way we are called to treat all with respect.

In Latin this counsel is made up of two words, “love” and “chastity.” In reality the two are equal. We are called to love all people chastely, in imitation of God who loves all of His creation.

73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel – 63

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the right. This is the 63rd step:

(63) To fulfil daily the commandments of God by works.

Most of us think of the commandments as “something” not to do, but this is not Benedict’s take. He sees them as something that requires action on our part daily. The type of action required is either to “fight” against the urges that keep us from fulfilling God’s commands or to “flee” the devil as we run toward God.

Fighting or fleeing are the actions demanded of the disciple of Christ. Most of us may find that we are moved to do neither. It could be that in our complacent lifestyle that following God’s commandments doesn’t seem to ask much of us. We peer out of the windows of our house or car and see the world outside of our selves and are quite unmoved by the plight of those who live down the street or in another neighborhood. We somehow listen to the Gospels and confuse Jesus with someone who “didn’t care” and wouldn’t have lifted a finger to help anyone.

If this definition hits close to home, then you know what you must “fight” in order to fulfill God’s commands daily–indifference. If on the other hand this definition makes you angry and you don’t like the mean guy saying that perhaps you aren’t a “good” Christian after all, then you need to flee the devil who has taken hold of your life (coming no doubt as an angel of light) and run to God who will empower you to fulfill His commands.

This counsel is against complacency. It is against thinking that we have ever arrived and now all we need to do is sit back and relax. It is a warning against the riches that can blind us to the truth of the Gospel which can neither be lost by the gnawing of a moth or the rot of rust. Works are demanded of us daily in order that God’s will might be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

73 Steps to Communion with God – 62

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the right. This is the 62nd step:

(62) Not to desire to be called holy before one is; but to be holy first, that one may be truly so called.

Holiness comes from God’s grace. One’s desire should be to be in a good relationship with God and not to be well thought of by others. In fact Our Lord declared that “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account,” Matthew 5:11. It would matter little then, if people thought of us as vile and pagan if that were not the truth.

There was a group of holy men in Russia who sought to live this out quite literally, to no avail. They are know as the “holy fools of Russia” and would do everything humanly possible to be thought of us vile and “unholy” to the point of publicly fornicating with prostitutes, walking naked through the public squares and uttering every kind of vulgarity loudly. But the populace knew that this was all so that they would not be well thought of and so they revered them anyway!

We do not have to go to such lengths to avoid being well thought of by others but we shouldn’t lose the point of their witness–that holiness is something to be rather than something that others think we are. Holiness is not an act but rather is the result of a relationship with God. Our motivation should always be to seek the Kingdom of God in our lives first and sometimes that will lead to others thinking poorly of us. But Jesus tells us that we are blessed and that is what matters.

The civil rights leaders of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s were religious people. They were motivated by their belief in God to reject the way black people were being treated in this country. They sang praise to God as they marched in front of State Capitals, sat at lunch counters or entered school buildings. Other so-called “Christians” reviled them declaring them to be atheists, troublemakers and Communists. But they were blessed and now we look upon them as saints and martyrs.

When we are gone from this earth, then we hope people will think of us as holy.

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